School Bus Routing Best Practices: Tips and Tricks of the Trade

School Bus Routing Best Practices: Tips and Tricks of the Trade

Every day, millions of children are transported from home to school and then from school to back home at the end of the day. Transportation Directors, Routers, and Dispatchers, as well as bus drivers and parents, have the very important job of ensuring safe transportation of students, and this can be a daunting task. To help you with this important job, we have compiled a list of fifteen basic tips from industry experts that can make the job of routing kids much easier. By following these tips and tricks, you can rest assured that your students are getting the safest ride possible, while maintaining a system that is beneficial for students, parents, and professionals.

Organization Tips:

Having a system in place for the organization of all records pertaining to routing is essential. This includes student records, bus driver records, bus maintenance records, and more. Below, each of these individual best practices is highlighted and explained.

1. Perform regular inspections of your buses.

It is important to inspect your buses on a regular basis. This includes making sure that all safety features are functioning correctly and that any wiring, brakes, and other parts of the bus are in good working order. Performing regular inspections can help you catch any potential problems before they become serious and put students in danger.

2. Maintain detailed records of your bus fleet and maintenance.

Storing detailed records of your buses and maintenance can help you manage your fleet more efficiently. Not only does this include the bus make, model, and year, but also any repairs or maintenance that have been completed on each individual bus. Having all this information in one place helps keep your buses running smoothly and allows you to remain informed about their condition, capabilities, and history.

3. Maintain up to date records for your bus drivers and a system for managing license and requirement updates.

It is essential to keep up to date records of your bus drivers and a system for managing license and requirement updates. To ensure the safety of your students, all bus drivers must maintain their commercial driver's license (CDL) and update it when required. Keeping a system in place to manage this process can help ensure that all of your drivers have the right licenses and qualifications needed for the job. With EZRouting, we have features that can make managing and keeping track of all of these features a breeze.

4. Maintain accurate student records.

Maintaining accurate records of all student information is essential to ensuring safe transportation of students. To make this process easier, you should integrate your routing system with the student information system (SIS). This will help keep track of any changes within the school and allow for quick updates in your routing data.

Each of these tips involves the maintenance of records and resources utilized by districts to route children to and from school. While maintaining hundreds or even thousands of individual records can seem like a daunting task for transportation departments, routing software can help with this task. EZRouting, in particular, can help take the guesswork out and make record maintenance much easier for districts, with many areas to easily input or import data and save it. This software can also notify you when records need to be updated or certain requirements are nearing expiration. EZRouting can help make record maintenance and routing easier, so that you can focus on what is most important - providing safe transportation for your students.

Bus Routing Tips:

Of course, some of these routing tips and tricks help with the actual route planning for student pickup and drop off. Be sure to check over your routes and ensure that you followed these industry standard best practices when planning each route.

1. Reduce stops to as few as needed to pick up kids.

When creating a route, it is important to reduce the total number of stops as much as possible. This helps minimize the amount of time students are on the bus, while still picking up all kids who need transportation. To do this, combine stops where possible and make sure that each student's pickup or drop off point is centralized in an area which is easy to access.

2. Minimize excessive wait times.

Another important step in creating an efficient route is to minimize any excessive wait times for students and drivers. This includes ensuring that all stops are as close together as possible, while still providing adequate coverage for the whole route. In addition, you should take into account traffic patterns, school start/stop times, and any other factors that may affect wait times.

3. Don't be afraid to fill up your busses.

While it is important to keep student safety in mind, don't be afraid to fill up your buses as much as possible. It can save both time and resources for districts if more students can be picked up or dropped off at the same stop. Of course, you should never overload your buses past what is safe but having a few extra students on the bus is not an issue.

4. Avoid crossover and overlap of routes.

It is also important to avoid crossover and overlap of routes as much as possible. This can cause confusion for both students and drivers and be a waste of time and resources in some districts. To help with this, make sure each route only covers the assigned area it needs to cover and there is no unnecessary crossover or overlap with other buses.

5. Minimize trip length when possible.

Finally, it is important to be mindful of state guidelines for how long students can legally be on buses and follow these. Whenever possible, try to minimize trip length so that students are not stuck on the bus longer than necessary. This helps ensure that students get where they need to go safely and quickly with minimal wait times or potential delays due to traffic or other circumstances.

6. Start at the furthest possible point and work your way back to the schools.

One of the best ways to make trip efficiency a priority is by starting at the furthest possible point and working your way back to the schools. This ensures that students within city limits are on buses for shorter periods of time, and it also helps with route efficiency. By starting at the end of your route, you can minimize trip length and ensure that all students have the shortest trip possible.

7. Don’t be afraid to improve and change up your routes.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to improve and change up your routes from time to time. Students change schools and move over time, as should routes, so it is important to look over established routes from time to time to ensure they still make sense for the current district situation.

Miscellaneous Tips:

1. Keep a rotation of sub drivers when possible.

Unfortunately, as with all industries, drivers can call out sick, retire, or find other employment, and it is essential to plan for these circumstances. Be prepared with substitute drivers to keep your routes running and ensure, if possible, that you always have enough drivers to cover any unanticipated absences. This will also help to prevent route shortages due to unexpected driver shortages.

2. Pre-empt any other unforeseen issues that could arise.

It is also important for transportation directors to know their area and to be prepared for any potential closures, road work, or inclement weather that could affect their routes. This can also help to keep students safe from potential obstacles that could arise during the course of a trip, allowing them to arrive at school on time. By pre-empting any unforeseen issues that could arise, transportation directors can plan ahead to ensure students and drivers have a safe and efficient school route no matter the circumstances.

3. Have a communication system for parents.

Lastly, communication is key when it comes to transportation. Have a communication system in place for parents so they can be aware of route delays, stop closures, or other unforeseen events. This helps with organization and communication issues and keeps parents informed on their children’s whereabouts and safety during travel to and from school, all while reducing how much time you and your team spend on the phone. Each of our prominent software services, both EZRouting and EZDistrict provide communication options for parents, making this easier and more efficient for all parties involved.

4. Let tech do the work for you.

As mentioned above, utilizing routing software can significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to develop, plan, and execute student transportation routing. EZRouting is leading this industry, with software to make route creation and maintenance easier, much simpler, and more organized overall. Software helps to eliminate much of the guesswork involved in creating routes, allowing you to quickly create efficient routes without sacrificing student safety or accuracy.

In conclusion, following these tips and tricks is important to offer both efficient and simplistic routes for your district. Utilizing routing software such as EZRouting can simplify route creation and maintenance, while also helping you to stay organized and maintain efficiency.  Get in touch with EZRouting today to demo the product and learn how this software can improve your transportation department overall.